FIRST OF CRICKET’S HAIRY SCALPS

Three Pak­istani crick­eters are found guilty of match fix­ing. The spot­light shifts to other play­ers in the sub­con­ti­nent.

India Today - - NEIGHBOURS - By Shan­tanu Guha Ray

The ver­dict from the South­wark crown court in Lon­don that Pak­istan Test cap­tain Sal­man Butt and fast bowlers Mo­ham­mad Asif and Mo­ham­mad Aamer are guilty of spot-fix­ing is likely to be the first of sev­eral such ac­tions in world cricket. The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil ( ICC) has now de­cided to re-in­ves­ti­gate three more Pak­istani crick­eters, Kam­ran Ak­mal, Umar Ak­mal and Wa­hab Riaz, as their names kept com­ing up dur­ing the spot-fix­ing trial in Eng­land. The court sen­tenced Butt to a 30-month jail term while Asif got a year in prison. Aamer was sen­tenced to six months in prison. Bookie Mazhar Ma­jeed, who bro­kered the deal, was sen­tenced to 32 months in jail.

ICC is also likely to in­ves­ti­gate a num­ber of In­dian, Sri Lankan, Aus­tralian and English play­ers whose names fig­ure in the tes­ti­mony of News of the World jour­nal­ist Mazhar Mah­mood, whose st­ing op­er­a­tion ex­posed the racket. In his tes­ti­mony to ICC in 2010, Mah­mood talked about a so­phis­ti­cated op­er­a­tion in the sub­con­ti­nent where loads of cash are fer­ried across the In­dian bor­der by the un­der­world.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the ver­dict, ICC CEO Ha­roon Lor­gat asked Pak­istan Cricket Board’s ( PCB) new Pres­i­dent Zaka Ashraf to keep a close watch on the game and those in it. “This ver­dict can be the be­gin­ning of a ma­jor clean-up op­er­a­tion,” wrote Sun­day Tele­graph’s colum­nist Steve James.

For quite some time, the ICC has been un­der pres­sure for not be­ing able to fix what many claim is bur­geon­ing cor­rup­tion in the game. A month ago, the ICC said it wanted anti-

‘‘ Pak­istan cricket to­day stands in iso­la­tion, ‘‘ mi­nus any friends.eh­san MANI, Former pcb pres­i­dent

cor­rup­tion units in all cricket-play­ing na­tions. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on to un­ravel the al­leged du­bi­ous links of the pro­mot­ers of the aban­doned Sri Lankan Premier League.

In Lon­don, former PCB pres­i­dent Eh­san Mani, con­vinced that more crick­eters from the sub­con­ti­nent could be in trou­ble, wanted a com­plete over­haul of the sys­tem. “Pak­istan cricket stands in iso­la­tion, mi­nus any friends. This is our dark­est hour. Cricket needs a big clean-up, in Pak­istan and other parts of the sub­con­ti­nent,” Mani told IN­DIA TO­DAY.

Former Eng­land skip­per Naseer Hus­sain won­dered how ICC would carry out a de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tion. “No cricket board will ob­ject to a probe but the ICC must have great clues to start one.” It will be tough in cash-starved Pak­istan and Sri Lanka. “Ev­ery­one here is des­per­ate to make quick money all the time,” says former Pak­istan pace bowler Sar­faraz Nawaz, whose calls for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mess in Pak­istan cricket have fallen on deaf ears.

PCB boss Ashraf, hand­picked by Pak­istan Pres­i­dent Asif Ali Zar­dari, re­cently con­vened an emer­gency meet­ing in La­hore to plan dam­age­con­trol. He had a two-point agenda— to res­ur­rect cred­i­bil­ity of Pak­istan cricket and en­sure that Pak­istan got to play its se­ries against In­dia next March. He must suc­ceed on both counts to pull Pak­istan cricket out of uncer­tainty and iso­la­tion.

(FROM LEFT) MO­HAM­MAD ASIF, SAL­MAN BUTTAND

MO­HAM­MAD AAMER

AFP

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